Carbon rims, carbon spokes, hookless design for tubeless-only tires.
stiff, light, responsive, smooth
relatively expensive aftermarket upgrade; loud freehub
The Cadex 36 WheelSystem wheels feel light, snappy, and very responsive. They are competitive on features, feel, and price with the likes of Enve, Roval, Zipp, and others.
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Giant’s Cadex wheels brand has rolled somewhat under the radar compared to Trek’s Bontrager and Specialized’s Roval brands, but the technology is very much at a high level. Joining the Cadex 42 and 65 is the new Cadex 36, a lightweight, general-use wheel that is lighter and even easier to handle in heavy winds.
- Cadex 36 Disc wheels promise stiff and lightweight performance at a premium price
- Zipp 303 Firecrest tubeless disc brake wheel goes on a diet, gets a stout profile
- Roval Alpinist CL offers top-tech at lower price point
The Cadex 36 wheels arrive with rim strips and valves in place. Also provided when you purchase these wheels are wheel bags, a valve core installation/removal tool, and a tire lever. Paper brochures and miscellaneous materials are also included in a fancy presentation envelope.
Quick and efficient setup
Never having previously set up any tubeless wheels from Cadex, I had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be no big deal.
Since one of the benefits of hookless rims is a design that claims to reduce drag at the rim/tire interface, I opted for Cadex 25mm tires which were designed, in part, to work seamlessly with Cadex wheels. The Cadex 36 wheels arrive with valves and rim strips installed — a convenient, time-saving benefit that is appreciated — and I trust that the wheels are professionally set up on arrival to keep air and sealant where it’s supposed to be.
Mounting the tires is easier than I initially expected, but still requires a little encouragement from the included tire lever.
After emptying the 2oz container of Giant’s latex sealant into the tire through the valve stem, I was able to use a standard floor pump to inflate the tires without hassle. Installation of a Shimano cassette and Shimano brake rotors is unremarkably straightforward and takes less than three minutes to complete.
How they spin (and spin)
While it’s nearly impossible to determine if the ceramic bearings allow these wheels to spin more easily than steel ones while riding them, the wheels do feel as easy to ride as with deeper wheels like Zipp 404s or Bontrager’s Aeolus Pro 5.
The Cadex 36 WheelSystem wheels never impart a pushing or pulling feeling in crosswinds, and feel snappy and responsive when accelerating. Compared with Profile Design wheels of the same depth (and half the price), the Cadex 36 feel noticeably stiffer and more responsive. No matter how I stand on the Cadex 36 wheels out of corners or while climbing, my 161lbs/73kg is not enough to flex these wheels.
First impressions verdict
The Cadex 36 respond very well to accelerations, with no discernable lag when the freehub engages, and are noticeably stiff and responsive. They are easy to set up, light, and just plain fun to ride in nearly any conditions — on light gravel and nearly any road surface — especially when riding solo and crosswinds are a concern.
The freehub is noticeably loud compared with other wheels, and can be heard even when sitting in a group. At $3,450/set, these wheels are price competitive with the top offerings from Enve, Roval, Zipp, and Bontrager.
I’ll continue to ride these wheels and offer a full review, so be sure to check back here for our thoughts after we get some more time and miles on these carbon road wheels.